Memory Gardens hosts traditional Hawaiian funeral

October 16, 2012

Memory Gardens hosts traditional Hawaiian funeral

Flowers, hula dancing adorn celebration of life

The culture of Hawaii graced the grounds of Memory Gardens last week when the life of an Oahu native was celebrated.


Brooksie Ann Leimomi Fikert met her husband while he was serving in the military in Hawaii. Mr. Fikert’s various assignments brought the couple to several states on the mainland during his career. The Fikerts and their family eventually moved to the Delmar and Ravena areas. Mrs. Fikert’s husband has rested at Memory Gardens since 1970. Mrs. Fikert returned home to the Islands in 1992.


In May 2012, Mrs. Fikert, 74, passed away in Honolulu. After her cremation, some of Mrs. Fikert’s ashes were transported from Honolulu wrapped in Tī leaves – which are used to protect the spirit – said her daughter, Rose Altimari. The rest of Mrs. Fikert’s ashes were interred in Hawaii near her cherished mother, brother and aunties.


Family members reveled in Mrs. Fikert’s spirit on Oct. 8 with a traditional Hawaiian funeral ceremony conducted in the Memory Gardens Chapel and at Mrs. Fikert’s graveside. The celebration was enlivened with many flowers – all flown in from Hawaii. Among the floral adornments were traditional floral leis: a gift of love from the ‘Ohana (family) to Mrs. Fikert. Ms. Altimari, her daughter, cousin and two granddaughters further expressed their love by performing the Hula, a dance form accompanied by chant or song. Among them were Queen Lili’uokalani’s, “Aloha ‘Oe.”  The event was also marked by readings, personal remembrances, Hawaiian music and a few “joyful tears.”


“We celebrate life,” Ms. Altimari said in referring to the funeral service that is more about joy than mourning. “We believe in rejoicing and honoring the life of our loved one through our choices of Hulas, music and sharing memories (known in the Islands as “talking story.”) This often brings upon more laughter than tears.”


The Fikert ‘Ohana wore muumuu dresses and Aloha shirts made of Palaka, a checkered fabric worn by plantation workers during the time of King Kamehameha the Great that was introduced by foreign missionaries when they first came to Hawaii. Their clothing was largely blue, the favorite color of Mrs. Fikert’s mother that has been the family attire for generations.


The celebration also featured offerings to Mrs. Fikert. For example, her 3-year-old great-nephew presented a piece of a lei made of teddy bears that Mrs. Fikert had made and given him when they first met. Mrs. Fikert’s passion for elephants was recognized with the inclusion of a wooden one in her vault. Also included was the Hula pin she received during a Ho’olaule’a (a festival of Hula). A pair of yellow roses from a granddaughter and two great-granddaughters noted the reunion of Mrs. Fikert with her beloved husband. The celebration concluded with the hanging of Mrs. Fikert’s floral lei on a wooden cross, the placing of her Ti’ leaf lei upon the vault (symbolizing eternal protection), and the distribution of orchids by all attending with the expression “Me Ke Aloha Pumehana” (with the warmth of my love).


Those attending Mrs. Fikert’s celebration who had never been to a traditional Hawaiian funeral experienced something extraordinary. “They were in awe of the love and rejoice they felt throughout the ceremony,” Ms. Altimari said.


“My hope was to allow all of those in attendance to feel what my mom’s heritage is all about and to embrace the way she lived her life, with The Spirit of Aloha.”

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